VEHEMENTLY-opposed plans for more than 300 houses on a treasured green field in Coalpit Heath have been thrown out by council planners.

It took over an hour to hear from residents against Barratt Homes’ proposal for Woodlands Farm, off Park Lane, as well as details of the scheme and why the firm thinks it is needed, at South Gloucestershire Council’s development control committee meeting in Thornbury last Thursday (July 4).

But it took councillors just 20 minutes to unanimously agree to dismiss the planning application, citing officers’ recommendations that building 330 homes would impact too heavily on the landscape and that Woodlands Farm is outside the settlement boundary of both Coalpit Heath and Frampton Cotterell as their reasons for refusal.

The authority has not included the site in its Core Strategy, a planning blueprint for the next 20 years.

Cllr Keith Cranney (Con, Stoke Gifford) said: "A lot of work has gone into our Core Strategy and this application is not in line with it.

"There is obviously a lot of opposition to the scheme and I cannot support it."

Cllr Alan Lawrance (Lib Dem, Yate) said Barratts had submitted the plans in hope the Core Strategy would not be ratified and that a government requirement to prove the authority has a five-year land supply would not be met.

"I don’t think they will give up on this application but this time, at this stage with our Core Strategy and an inspector agreeing we have a land supply, I have difficulty supporting this application," he said.

Agent Peter Roberts told the meeting Barratts acknowledged opposition to the scheme.

"But this is an attractive and appropriate development that will assist in meeting the council’s and community’s housing needs," he said. "We will fund significant improvements to bus services, pedestrian improvements and drainage to Nightingale Bridge."

Earlier in the meeting, resident representatives pleaded with councillors to save the land for dog walkers and cyclists.

Westerleigh parish councillor Eve Carey said: "We feel the development would be a burden on this community and cause problems for schools and GP surgeries."

Jen Dunford, from Village Action in Frampton Cotterell, said the land had important historical and literary connections, having inspired children’s author Dick King-Smith who once worked on the farm.

She said: "Woodlands Farm is essential for the wellbeing of local people as it is a popular flat walk with no stiles. There is forceful opposition to it and we say no.

"Keep Woodlands Farm green, open and accessible."

Richard Merrick, chairman of the Save Woodlands Farm action group, told the Gazette after the meeting: "We are very pleased by the decision and will wait to see what happens with regards an appeal."